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Valley of Fire, Nevada

Explained by the geological processes of Noah’s Flood

Published: 1 February 2020 (GMT+10)

Today’s feedback comes from K.W. of Nevada who wants to understand a geologic feature near where they live.

Hello,

I am trying to find some information on the geology of the Valley of Fire north of Lake Mead in Nevada from a creation science point of view. Can you help? My Googling has turned up nothing so far.

Thanks!

K.W.

Clément Bardot Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 UnportedValley-of-fire-State-Park
Figure 1. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. The red/orange colouring is due to iron minerals within the sandstone. The rocks were deposited during Noah’s Flood as the floodwaters were rising. The landscape was uplifted, faulted, and eroded in the second half of the Flood as the floodwaters were receding. The angular lines in the outcrop in the foreground are large-scale cross beds formed by the catastrophic water flows depositing the sand during the Flood.

CMI’s geologist Dr Tas Walker responds:

Hi K.W.,

The Valley of Fire (figure 1) is a remarkable site, and we will be pleased to describe its features from a creation point of view. We often receive requests such as yours and research an area to interpret it. For example, we did an article on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands. In that article we explain how we do the research so that others, like yourself, can do the same thing for other sites.

What has already been reported?

The first step is to find out what mainstream geologists have reported about the site. Then it is a matter of reinterpreting the geology within a biblical perspective, which can be done initially by applying an interpretation chart (or table). There is a good chart in the article about Wilpena Pound, Australia, which allows a preliminary reinterpretation of the mainstream geological information. I’ve reproduced this as figure 2. The above two articles will help you see things from a creation perspective and be able to apply that perspective to the area you are interested in. However, often there are complications and inconsistencies that arise, which we will see in this case, and which need to be resolved.

I Googled Valley of Fire and found an article on Wikipedia.1 Although Wikipedia is not the most soundly based source and is written from a long-age evolutionary perspective, it is a helpful first stop and can give useful leads for further investigation. Google will allow you to find many other helpful articles too.

Geology-transformation
Figure 2. Geologic column showing the labelled subdivisions and evolutionary times assigned. Note that the time lengths are not to scale. A preliminary reinterpretation of the column from a biblical geologic framework is also shown. There is not a one-to-one relationship between the column and Flood rocks because the criteria used to place rocks within the evolutionary column are not always applicable to a Flood classification. See The geological column is a general Flood order with many exceptions. To assign rock units to biblical history the geology of each geographic location needs to be considered on its merits using biblical classification criteria.

From the Wikipedia article I discovered that the Valley of Fire is located 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Las Vegas (figure 3) at an elevation between 402–917 m (1,320–3,009 feet). The name Valley of Fire comes from the red sandstone formations in the valley, called the Aztec Sandstone, which often appear to be on fire beneath the rays of the sun. We can appreciate that all this information is straightforward and factual because it can be confirmed by observations.

However, it’s when we encounter the geology of the valley that we need to reinterpret the information. The first geological information provided is that the sandstone was deposited 150 million years ago. This is something that cannot be established by observation—no one was present to observe the sand being deposited. In other words, it is speculation based on a belief system, and needs to be reinterpreted.

Consulting the reinterpretation chart of figure 2 we can see that a “uniformitarian age” of 150 million years is somewhere around the Jurassic. Alongside this age the green arrow indicates it is towards the top of “Floodwaters rising”. In other words, the sandstone was deposited during Noah’s Flood some 4,500 years ago as the floodwaters were rising and as they were nearing their peak. On this diagram, notice the blue arrow, which indicates that after the Cretaceous the floodwaters were falling. Also notice that there is some overlap on the arrows to indicate that the exact location (e.g. between rising and falling) can vary depending on the area we are considering.

Shifting dunes

Another geological feature mentioned in the above Wikipedia article is that the Aztec Sandstone formed from shifting sand dunes. There is also a Wikipedia article about the Aztec Sandstone,2 which says that the formation is 640–670 m (2100–2500 feet) thick, which is huge, and consists primarily of aeolian sand, meaning it was deposited from the action of wind. The size of the formation is based on observation, but the idea that it was deposited by wind is unobserved speculation. This leads to an inconsistency that is not uncommon when converting mainstream geological interpretations into biblical ones. It does not make sense that this formation was deposited by wind if it was deposited during the Flood as the floodwaters were approaching their peak.

These sorts of problems generally arise because of the way uniformitarian geologists interpret the rocks. In this case, the sandstone beds are very large in size and greatly distorted in places (see figure 4 and figure 1). Long-age geologists will automatically assume that these beds were deposited by wind, rather than by water, because it would take a flood of biblical proportions to deposit such huge dunes from water. Within their philosophy such a process is too big. Remember that no one saw the sand being deposited, so the interpretation is speculation.

Map data ©2020 Google INEGIValley-of-Fire-Map
Figure 3. Valley of Fire State Park (arrowed) is 80 km (60 miles) north-east of Las Vegas, north of Lake Mead, and 200 km (130 miles) west of Grand Canyon.

However, this is no problem for a biblical interpretation because we would expect to see lots of evidence of large-scale watery catastrophe. And that is what we see. The enormous beds of sandstone were deposited by great volumes of flowing floodwaters. The Wikipedia article on the Valley of Fire reports that other important rock formations in the area include limestones, shales, and conglomerates (composed of large rocks). All these were deposited as the waters of Noah’s Flood were rising.

The Wikipedia article for the Valley of Fire has a short section on the geology, which basically talks about how the valley formed (rather than how the sandstone was deposited). It says that the present landscape was formed by “complex uplifting and faulting of the region followed by extensive erosion.” This is easy to picture from a biblical perspective. The uplift occurred in the second half of Noah’s Flood (figure 2 after the Cretaceous), well after the sediments were deposited. Continental uplift was relative to the ocean basins sinking. Sinking ocean basins provide space for the waters to flow off the continent, while Noah and his family were still in the Ark on the Mountains of Ararat waiting for the water to go down. In summary, the uplift caused the water to flow off the continent into the ocean, and it caused faulting of the rocks.

The floodwaters on the continent eroded the surface while they covered the area and then as they flowed off into the oceans. The rough floor and jagged walls of the park were created by faulting and fracturing of the area as the continent was uplifted. The landscape was carved as the floodwaters receded. In other words, water erosion in the second ‘half’ of Noah’s Flood created the present landscape.

Within a larger context

The Valley of Fire is not far from Grand Canyon, so we would expect its formation to be linked with the geological processes that formed the Canyon. Some fascinating research (see Colorado Plateau sandstones derived from the Appalachians?) suggests that the sand for some of the rocks in the area was derived from the Appalachians on the eastern side of the continent. This hints at the action of great volumes of water at that time which transported the sediment thousands of kilometres across the continent into the area.

Wilson44691 Wikimedia CommonsRed-Rocks-Distorted-Beds
Figure 4. An outcrop of the Aztec Sandstone at Red Rock National Conservation Area, Nevada. The dunes are large, and they have been folded and distorted, likely due to ground movements soon after deposition before the sand was cemented into hard stone.

Another article (Startling evidence for Noah’s Flood) describes footprints and sand ‘dunes’ in a Grand Canyon rock formation called the Coconino Sandstone. This deposit is classified as Permian, which, from figure 1, is slightly earlier than the assigned ‘age’ of the Aztec Sandstone. The interpretation of the Coconino formation is like that of the Aztec Sandstone. That is, mainstream geologists interpret them as wind deposited. However, the above article presents a closer inspection that shows the sandstone was deposited by water and not wind. Interestingly, both the Coconino Sandstone and the Aztec Sandstone preserve vertebrate trackways, the former of land animals and the latter of pterosaurs.

The erosion of the vast area was a significant process, and this article on the formation of Grand Canyon describes how it occurred in the second half of Noah’s Flood as the floodwaters were receding. Some very large landscape features were formed at this time including Horse Shoe Bend in Arizona. This erosion means that much more sediment had been deposited on top of the Aztec Sandstone as the floodwaters were rising, likely more Jurassic sediments and Cretaceous ones as well. But these were eroded away by the receding floodwaters.

In summary

In short, the huge sandstone deposits at the Valley of Fire were deposited as the waters of Noah’s Flood were rising. More sediments were deposited on top, but then the landscape was eroded by the floodwaters when they covered the whole continent, and as they receded into the oceans.

I hope this is useful to you. You can find out lots more by searching creation.com with suitable key words.

All the best,

Dr Tasman Walker
Scientist, Writer, Speaker

References and notes

  1. Valley of Fire State Park, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_Fire_State_Park, accessed 10 January 2020. Return to text.
  2. Aztec Sandstone, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec_Sandstone, accessed 10 January 2020. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Geology by Design
by Carl R Froede Jr
US $15.00
Soft Cover
How Noah's Flood Shaped Our Earth
by Michael J Oard, John K Reed
US $17.00
Soft Cover
Exploring Geology with Mr Hibb
by Michael Oard, Tara Wolfe, Chris Turbuck
US $16.00
Hard Cover

Readers’ comments

Gabriel S.
It always fascinates me how people - and here I include most calling themselves Christian - will give almighty God credit for raising people from the dead, parting seas and rivers, opening the earth [to swallow up people], calming storms etc, and all of that in a very short time-span, some of which 'immediately', yet will not acknowledge the fact that He is capable, and indeed has done exactly as He proclaims, to create the cosmos in six days. How can those 'Christians' even begin to believe His claim that their sins have been forgiven... let us take note of these words in John 3:36 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." - so if the Son says six days, six days it is!
in Christ
Gabriel
Rex J.
This is yet more proof of a universal flood. The mass erosion events around the world, the submersion of the continental shelves that used to be land, the huge underground aquifers etc. Unfortunately your messages are being drowned out by the mass media which have an anti-Christ agenda and will never submit to the truth. The anti-Christ disciples such as Attenborough and Dawkins continue to present their theories as facts, brainwashing the masses. They say that modern science has disproved religion. I believe the opposite, that modern science has confirmed the creation. Schools barely mention creationism and continue to push the anti-Christ teachings. So called Christians are denying Genesis and are effectively calling Jesus and the apostles liars without even thinking about it. I hope with your website we can reach out to more and more people as we fight these satanic forces. Good bless you all.
Charles S.
Once the mind accepts the concept of a world-wide flood, all of the geological features we see today matches almost perfectly the biblical description of Noah's Flood.
Dan M.
If the Aztec sandstone was wind deposited it would be very dry homogeneous sand, and I assume the distinct layering would not have been present during faulting? Also, dry desert sands shift as particles tumble down the sides of dunes; they do not fold. How would secularists explain that one, seeing that nice well preserved, fine, uniform layering or do they just ignore it altogether? To build up a layer over 2,000 feet thick from windblown sand the climate of the region would have to have been very dry. Windblown sand just doesn't make common sense to me. This is part of doing science; question everything until it becomes well established and logical. Even then look for other possible explanations. Science has been hijacked by atheist inquisitions and as a result, science suffers just like faith suffered under inquisitions in the middle ages. Release science from the bondage of Evolutionary thinking and it will advance our understanding of the past through the bible.
Sandra M.
One time we visited an abandoned mining town in CO whose elevation was at least 12,000 feet, as I recall. Up there I found a rock with marine fossils. I tried to pry it loose to take with me but it was so deeply and firmly embedded in the ground there was no way a body could remove it by hand. I was so amazed to see a rock like this at this elevation. Awesome.
Murray A.
Perhaps not as spectacular as the Valley of Fire in Nevada, but closer to home are the Rainbow Cliffs on Maria Island in Tasmania. As soon as I saw the photo above I thought immediately of the Rainbow Cliffs, a very similar formation to that shown above. Perhaps the CMI team could go and examine them.
While there, on the opposite side of Martia Island are fossil cliffs containing millions of fossilised marine shells and molluscs, which the display board tells the tourist are 291 million years old (are they sure about the 1?). The cliffs are clearly flood deposits—nothing else could explain the myriad of shells, forming high cliffs which stretch for a long distance.
Chris M.
Tas,

Speaking of 'observable science' and 'geological' events, what exactly does the secular geologist about events like Mt. St. Helens explosion and what we learned from that? Canyons carved, 20+ feet of thin layers of sediments deposited, polystrate tree trunks being formed, etc, etc. How does one have an event like this happen right in front of their eyes, see that it doesn't take millions of years for the geological formations to happen, yet still claim in takes millions of years for then to happen?

What am I missing? Why would an actual observable, testable, event like this not re-write Geology books?
Tas Walker
Some do change their minds. But most do not. In their thinking the idea of hundreds of millions of years is a fact, and all evidence has to be interpreted within that framework. The concept of actualism has arisen because of the way that uniformitarian philosophy is continually contradicted by the evidence. I don't think they appreciate the inherent contradictions their philosophy contains, so they put it all 'on the shelf' thinking it is something that will be solved at a later date. This concept of shelving problems happens over and over again. This article Changing paradigms in stratigraphy discusses the ways geologists are trying to resolve some of their problems.
Antonio F.
What would be interesting is revising figure 2 to include major volcanic activity. This gives a better bearing on what was happening to the earth for fledgling creation writers wanting to contribute to your JoC series.

It is claimed that Michael Oards' work of a Heavy Bombardment being the initiation of the flood, is an argument of silence but there are many references in the Bible saying that Gods works can be observed in creation. The work that Oard has done with regard to observation on the moon and other planets being evidence for a HB is evidence in creation of a starting mechanism for Noah's Flood. I would like to see this be amalgamated with Baumgardner's work regarding movement of material in the mantle. In my studies as a Mining engineer we learnt that rock can be cleaved along a plain such that impact waves are directed along that plain. Certain geologists have mentioned that Kimberlites display characteristics of extraterrestrial origin. Also, in underground coal mines they use a lime drop (which is powdered lime) to stop a propagating gas fire dead in its tracks and cordon off the rest of the mine preventing extreme catastrophe. Although Oard's estimates of HB would likely completely liquefy the mantle and the core, a controlled downward cascade of meteorites in the zone Baumgardner hints at could be a good model for NF. As the Bible states, 'and the waters from the foundations of the deep burst forth and the heavens were opened'. In volcanic activity we see plenty of associated magmatic waters and S (subduction) zone of the upper mantle is said to be 600 km deep, which is impossible if the earth was as old as claimed by OE since mixing of subducted materials with magma would make it undifferentiable. Lime would be needed to stop ocean acidification.

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